UPDATED 08:03 EDT / JANUARY 14 2020

olive-oil-968657_1280 BLOCKCHAIN

Tunisian olive oil producer Cho looks to IBM Food Trust blockchain for food transparency

Cho Group, one of the biggest olive oil producers in the southern Mediterranean, and IBM Corp. today announced that Cho will use the IBM Food Trust Network, a distributed ledger blockchain technology, to provide traceability for extra virgin olive oil shipments.

Cho, the largest exporter of branded olive oil in Tunisia, will use IBM’s blockchain network to deliver traceability for its Terra Delyssa extra virgin olive oil. The tracking includes eight quality assurance checkpoints, including the orchard where the olives are grown, the mill where the olives are crushed, the oil filtration, bottling, distribution and more.

Customers of Terra Delyssa retailers around the world will be able to scan a QR code on each label, starting with the most recent harvest now being bottled, which will show a provenance record of the oil in the bottle.

This record details each step of the product’s journey. The vision of this capability is to give customers peace of mind about the origins of their olive oil. It will also provide insight into its journey and the quality checkpoints. The display includes a photograph of the fields where the olives were grown.

“Our families have been olive farmers and olive oil millers for generations.  We created Terra Delyssa with a unique, smooth flavor profile to be the ambassador of Tunisian olive oil,” said Wajih Rekik, chief executive of Cho America. “With Food Trust, we believe we are among the first olive oil producers to use blockchain to provide our consumers a window into each step that goes into making our olive oil so exceptional.”

According to Cho, olive oil mislabeling – especially for higher grade designations such as “extra virgin” – is extremely common. High-profile sham olive oil operations, plus general confusion about how olive oil is blended, drive customer distrust.

Cho believes that today’s customers deserve a higher level of authenticity and transparency. And, a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study revealed that 73% of customers will pay a premium for full transparency into the products they buy.

The use of blockchain technology, through IBM Food Trust, enables great trust across the supply chain by creating a permanent record of transactions that cannot be altered. Using the blockchain, every time an event happens to a shipment of olives, it can record a milestone in the supply chain.

That means every bottle of olive oil on the shelf of a retailer can have its journey, from tree through processing to bottle to shelf, recorded and visualized by the customer.

The IBM Food Trust blockchain network also uses this capability to ensure the safety of food going through its supply chain. The network was initially launched with a variety of retailers and food suppliers across the United States, including Golden State Foods, McCormick and Co., Nestlé, Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The company has used this network for more than two years to assist with tracing food supply chains and delivering safer products to store shelves. Using the IBM Food Trust blockchain, it’s also possible to prevent food-borne illness by detecting it more quickly and easily determining what batches could have been affected, by reading through the blockchain transactions. That will allow for more rapid recalls and the ability to track the source of contamination.

Cho is the most recent major food supplier to join the IBM Food Trust blockchain network. Others include Albertsons Cos. LLC, which traces romaine lettuce with the technology, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which added Indian shrimp suppliers to the blockchain.

“This is yet another example of Food Trust’s commitment to strengthening the food system from farm to table,” said IBM Industry Platforms General Manager Raj Rao. “In terms of food provenance, olive oil presents a difficult challenge, as the product must work its way from an olive grove to an international base of retailers while retaining its purity and freshness.”

For the distributors and retailers, a separate blockchain application built for enterprise users can visualize in-depth information about each processing and control stage of production. This includes confirming that the oil is indeed extra virgin, organic and impurity-free using analysis from Cho’s International Olive Council accredited laboratory and third-party auditors.

Photo: Pixabay

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